The Swan, Salford; Review

Last week I may have mentioned that I went to The White Horse, this week I’m back in Milton Keynes(ish) as Mrs P and I were invited to the Swan at Salford to check on their new Summer menu. Sister pub to the Black Horse in Woburn, The Swan Salford is a different propersition altogether and is  situated on the corner of the main road through Salford. Well, I say main road but the village is so small that it only has two roads to choose from so you couldn’t really miss the Swan even if you tried!

First impressions of The Swan Salford

From the outside, the Swan is a nice looking modern pub – that is to say that it’s everything you would want it to be. There aren’t any airs or graces about the place, no grubby plastic banners hung from windows or two-for-a-tenner sillyness, just a good representation of a forward thinking village pub. Inside, you walk straight into the bar and it’s a light, busy space that puts you at ease quickly. There are comfy seats dotted all over the place and plenty of space to have a drink without bumping elbows with anyone.

The Swan at Salford bar
The Swan at Salford Bar


Drinks and menus

I went with a pint and Mrs P treated herself to a cocktail, most beers are branded but that’s not to say they are bad. In fact, this particular real twigs-and-leafs pint (as my non-ale drinking brother continues to refer to it as) filled me with pleasure beyond measure after a particularly unpleasant Wednesday at work. Mrs P found the cocktail very sweet but as we didn’t have the opportunity to sample any others, she suspects that’s just down to personal taste because the drinks menu itself was pretty substantial and there would almost certainly be something that fits the bill.


Food at The Swan?

Before starters, we were plied with some in-house bread and it was really good. Actually, to do it justice,’good’ is not a suitable word to use here because it’s these little touches that make a really great experience and this was a perfect example of the Swan doing just that. It was so good in fact, that Mrs P kept some back to dunk in her starter.

The Swan at Salford Bread


And for the starters I decided to throw a curve ball. ‘I’ll have the salad, please.’ I said with a confidence I didn’t feel. Mrs P, looked at me in horror as she ordered the potato & spring onion soup of the day. ‘But you never order a salad, are you feeling guilty because you have had a burger at lunch – again?!’ I reassured her that a) no, I had not had a sneaky burger, b) no, I hadn’t made a mistake and c) yes, while it’s true that as a wise man once said; ‘you don’t make friends with salad’,  I however, knew what was coming and I wanted to be sure I could cope.

It’s worth noting that Mrs P asked for a smaller portion of soup and the kitchen was happy to oblige with the mug pictured here. A fantastically helpful and perfect amount that actually sat well with the bread and wrapped butter – a bigger bowl would have been way too much. Mrs P commented that it was heavy on the cream and so would have benefited from perhaps a bit of a lighter touch and more onion-y-ness which may have been more appropriate for a summer menu but she finished it off without further ado, so I knew it wasn’t bad. As I munched though my tomatoes and beetroot with Mrs P eyeing me warily and still no doubt wondering if I had changed my medication recently, I reminded myself that even with a very well dressed, well proportioned salad (although the croutons were only toasted on one side and therefore a bit soggy) that is filled with superfood leafs, delicious heritage tomatoes and other such wonder ingredients, I have never and still don’t, like tofu.

So, on to the fact that we had quite fortuitously, decided to visit The Swan Salford on Steak night and there were many different cuts to choose from. I went for the pork tomahawk and Mrs P decided on the flat iron beef. Both were cooked expertly, with quality shining through. Just take a look at these and tell me what’s not to like?

The deliciously enormous slabs of protein were grilled nicely, the pork still moist in the inside and charred on the outside with a nice bit of fat on the outside to keep all the flavour in. The flat iron cut is a very lean steak so has to be cooked lightly and this example was a perfect medium rare. Both plates were equipped with a good proportion of greenery and sides. The onion rings were great for dipping, especially in the cider and apple sauce which was a very welcome departure from what we’re all used to.

Both Mrs P and I were getting some proper meat sweats on and had to take a break before heading down the final furlong of desert.

Impressive puds

Mrs P, won this round hands down with her cheesecake and enormous tuile.  My brownie and ice-cream, although perfectly gooey and delicious, couldn’t hold it’s own as Mrs P melted into a puddle of adjectives, most of which started with ‘ooh’ or ‘mmm’.  Apparently, this was more than a cheesecake – it was an expert creation! It was gone before I’d had no more than a sniff of it’s fruit cooli’d sauce and heard the crunch of the biscuit – high praise indeed for the pastry chef responsible.

As I mentioned, we were invited to the Swan but if we had paid, it would have come in at about £65 including drinks, which is a bloody bargain for the sort of thing you get served here if you ask me.

So there you have it, or it least it would be if I hadn’t left out one vital comment. The one thing that kept us talking about the Swan Salford for days afterwards wasn’t the decor, it wasn’t the location, it wasn’t even the food; it was the staff. I have rarely encountered a whole team that have been so enthusiastic and genuinely pleased to be at work as this lot. They knew I was coming so I was expecting them to be nice to me and they certainly were but I watched the bar staff, waiting staff and managers dealing with the other tables and customers around the room, there is no doubt that they were on it like a scotch bonnet. If bad service can kill a good meal and good service can make a bad meal good, then great service can make a great meal stella.

Well done you lot, I’ll be seeing you all again very soon.

Don’t miss our collection of the best Milton Keynes pub gardens post, which features The Swan. Enjoy!

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